Cheesy comedy capers let down an expansive show on a bigger stage
Gotye … an arena star after Somebody I Used To Know.
Sydney Entertainment Centre, December 14
SOME perspective first. As odd judgment calls go, you wouldn't put this up there with calling Mal Brough for politically impartial advice. As momentum-stopping actions go, you wouldn't put it in the same class as James Graham sinking the fangs into Billy Slater's ear. And it's not like Gotye didn't flag change was coming before this tour in the larger rooms now demanded of a man with one of the biggest hits of the past few years.
(Though maybe when he said his concerts were going to need a bit more ''show'' you might have been expecting something like the mid-set appearance of support act Bertie Blackman in a furry cat suit to sing on Somebody That I Used To Know).
Cheesy ... Barry Morgan. Photo: Tessie Vanderwert
Nonetheless, what was Gotye thinking bringing on the hoary comedy capers of Barry Morgan and his cheese-in-velour organ playing half an hour into his concert? In what way did he think a routine which wouldn't have made the final edit of a Spicks and Specks episode enhance anything?
What it did instead was kill the energy and impetus with which the 10-man band had kicked off the night, beginning with the all-hands-to-the-drums thrilling end to The Only Way, building up again through What Do You Want? and Easy Way Out, all accompanied by old-fashioned but engaging cartoons and slightly surreal graphics on the screen, and hitting another kinetic climax with Smoke and Mirrors.
Here was the evidence that whether or not you think Gotye has much depth beyond his appropriation of Sledgehammer/In Your Eyes-era Peter Gabriel (with, in the straight pop/rock I Feel Better, an unexpected John Farnham moment) his percussion-based songs could hold an audience. Yes, even if the man also known as Wally is quite happily a bit of a dag who brings out a squeaking rubber chicken for a gag.
Gotye performs in Sydney
Gotye performs on stage at Sydney Entertainment Centre. Photo: Mark Metcalfe
As the band and Gotye worked hard to rebuild momentum, along the way reminding us that the still impressive early hit Heart's a Mess was the structural and sonic template for the globe-bestriding Somebody That I Used To Know, one point kept being hammered, albeit unintentionally.
Even in an expansive live show there is a never entirely shed insularity about Gotye's songs, a clear sense that they were constructed piece by piece by one man in a fertile but still slightly arid atmosphere.
Changing that feeling on stage, rather than some comic relief, is what will transform Gotye into the arena star his sales suggest.